The Chess Variant Pages

Imperial Chess

By James Killian Spratt, 2000 

 

Introduction

Please go to this link for the author's web page on this game, which includes the rules with his own hand-drawn illustrations. (ed.)

Setup

Here are the original positions of the pieces in Imperial Chess.

Pieces

  1. Royalty

            Emperor - Moves any distance in a straight line, square or diagonal (as the Queen in Chess).

            Empress - Moves any 2 spaces in any direction, square or diagonal, or both in the same turn; and may hitch a ride with any horseman. See the Rules for hitching rides. (Empress and Queens can capture enemies.)

            King - Moves 3 spaces in any direction, square or diagonal, or both in the same turn, zigzag, circle, straight or whatever.

            Queen - Moves any 2 spaces in any direction, square or diagonal, or both in the same turn; and may hitch a ride with any horseman. See the Rules for hitching rides. (Empress and Queens can capture enemies.)

            Imperial Prince - Moves one square and two diagonal spaces, in any direction or combination; and may leap over intervening pieces.

            Imperial Princess - Moves any 2 spaces in any direction, square or diagonal, or both in the same turn; and may hitch a ride with any horseman. See the Rules for hitching rides. Imperial Princesses do not capture enemies. (Not ladylike.)

            Prince - Moves one square and two diagonal spaces, in any direction or combination; and may leap over intervening pieces.

            Princess - Moves any 2 spaces in any direction, square or diagonal, or both in the same turn; and may hitch a ride with any horseman. See the Rules for hitching rides. Princesses do not capture enemies. (Not ladylike.)

     

  2. Horsemen

    Imperial Prince

    Prince

            Knights - Move one square and one diagonal, in any direction or combination, and can jump intervening pieces.

     

  3. Ladies

    Empress 

    Queens 

    Imperial Princess

    Princesses 

     

  4. Good Soldiers & Gents

            Rook - Moves any distance in a straight line parallel to sides of board (as the Rook in regular Chess).

            Bishop - Moves any distance in a straight line diagonal to sides of board (as the Bishop in Chess).

            Catapult - In any direction moves one space at a time to relocate, or can obliterate a target up to four spaces away in a straight line, square or diagonally. (Count 1, 2, 3, 4, as you shoot.) Can shoot over intervening pieces.

            Crossbowmen - Moves any two spaces in any direction, square or diagonal or both.

            Pikemen - Moves any two spaces, square only, or one space diagonally, which amounts to the same thing, in any direction.

            Pawns - May move one or two spaces forward on initial move, and one space forward per turn afterward. May attack dead ahead, or right or left oblique, as in Chess.

Rules

  1. Set up the board, familiarizing yourself with the way the fifteen types of characters move; it may seem a little daunting at first, but it doesn't take an average player more than one or two moves with the new pieces before they get the hang of it, and the contest becomes interesting.

     

  2. White goes first. Players move one piece per turn, alternating. Note exception - "the charge".

     

  3. To win: destroy your opponent's empire by capturing all of his imperial family - the Emperor, the Empress, and the Imperial Prince and Princess.

     

  4. When a piece of yours makes it to the enemy's back row (to replace lost pieces):

    Emperor: Replace him with any lost piece; he goes back to original position.

    Empress: You may replace the highest-ranking piece you have lost in her place, or any lesser piece. She returns to original position.

    Queen: You may replace any piece you have lost from a King on down in the position the Queen occupies. She returns to her original position.

    Imperial Princess: You may replace any piece you have lost from Emperor on down in the position the Imperial Princess occupies. She returns to original position.

    Princess: You may replace any lost piece from King down to her position; she returns to her original position.

    Pawn: You may replace the Pawn with any piece you have lost from King on down to his (Pawn's) position. Pawn is returned to original position.

     

  5. Special Rules of Play: (Dirty tricks and nasty surprises)

    The Charge: When no fewer than six of your frontline men (or women) are within one move of direct attack position at the beginning of your turn, you may announce a "charge", wherein you must move one (any one) piece in each of the twelve columns one move (the move the particular piece is allowed), in one turn. The defender may respond with a regular move or a charge, if the above conditions are met.

    Rapid Deployment:  Players may advance any unbroken rank one space forward, whether it is in its original composition or not.  (This would get clear space behind the Pawn rank pretty quick, room to maneuver the power-rows, and eliminate the tedium of build-up for a Charge, which takes a bunch of turns, and get some real action going in a hurry.)

    Hitching a ride: Any Lady who is in a position in front of, beside, or behind a Horseman may be moved with him, providing she is clear to land in the same position relative to him at the end of his jump. (This is a nasty surprise for your opponent, especially when she gets near his back row so quick!)

    No "check": There is no "check" or "checkmate", and no obligation to announce attack impending against any piece, nor any requirement to move any piece out of harm's way.

    No "castling": This board is big and open enough to eliminate the need for "castling". 

    Emperor killed: The Imperial Prince, if alive, becomes the new Emperor, as soon as a Horseman from his home 3 rows arrives adjacent to him, within 1 square. The Imperial Prince piece is removed from the board, and the Emperor piece put in his place.

    Playing Tips

    Remember - its only a game! You can't put a winning record on your resume, so don't be so careful that you never take a chance, hate losing, and take so long to move that you're no fun to play with, like a lot of Chess players we know. Its meant to be fun, so -- Have Fun!

    Equipment

    See this link for the author's set of his game.

    Computer Play

    You can also play this using the web-based Game Courier system on this site. See the below link to the preset.

    Credits

    Graphics by James Spratt, colored by Fergus Duniho.